Andokides has little skill in the commonplaces of rhetorical argument.
But it is not merely in special features of diction or of arrangement that Andokides is seen to be no technical rhetorician. A disciple of the sophistical rhetoric learned to deal copiously and skilfully with those commonplaces of argument which would be available in almost any case. His education taught him to prefer general argument to argument from particular circumstances, unless these were especially easy to manipulate. We see this in Antiphon's First Tetralogy: it is a model exercise in making the utmost of abstract probabilities as inferred from facts which are very slightly sketched. In the speech On the Murder of Herodes the statement of the facts is hurried over, and there is no attempt at a close and searching analysis of them. But for a speaker unskilled in rhetorical commonplace the particulars of any given subject would be everything. Picturesque narration, shrewd inference from small circumstances, lively illustration of character would naturally be his chief resources. And so it is with Andokides. His strength is in narrative, as the strength of Antiphon is in argument. Andokides relies on his case, Antiphon on his science; it is only Lysias who hits the masterly mean, who makes his science the close interpreter of his case, who can both recount and analyse. But, although the narrative element in Andokides exceeds the just proportion always observed by Lysias, it is, from a
Strength of Andokides in narrative.
literary point of view, a great charm. The speech On the Mysteries is full of good bits of description, lively without set effort to be graphic. For instance, the scene in the prison, when Andokides was
persuaded to denounce the real mutilators of the Hermae:—
‘When we had all been imprisoned in the same place; when night had come, and the gaol had been closed; there came, to one his mother, his sister to another, to another his wife and children; and there arose a piteous sound of weeping and lamentation for the troubles of the hour. Then Charmides (he was my cousin, of my own age, and had been brought up with me in our house from childhood) said to me:—‘Andokides, you see how serious our present dangers are; and though hitherto I have always shrunk from saying anything to annoy you, I am forced by our present misfortune to speak now. All your intimates and companions except us your relations have either been put to death on the charges which threaten us with destruction, or have taken to flight and pronounced themselves guilty. If you have heard anything about this affair which has occurred, speak it out, and save our lives—save yourself in the first place, then your father, whom you ought to love very dearly, then your brother-inlaw, the husband of your only sister,—your other kinsmen, too, and near friends, so many of them; and me also, who have never given you any annoyance in all my life, but am most zealous for you and for your interests, whenever anything is to be done.’ When Charmides said this, judges, and when the others besought and entreated me severally, I thought to myself,—‘most miserable and unfortunate of men, am I to see my own kinsfolk perish undeservedly—to see their lives sacrificed and their
property confiscated, and in addition to this their names written up on tablets as sinners against the gods,—men who are wholly innocent of the matter,— am I to see moreover three hundred Athenians doomed to undeserved destruction and the State involved in the most serious calamities, and men nourishing suspicion against each other,—or shall I tell the Athenians just what I heard from Euphiletos himself, the real culprit1
Another passage in the same speech illustrates the skill of Andokides in dramatising his narrative. He delighted to bring in persons speaking. Epichares, one of his accusers in this case, had been an agent of the Thirty Tyrants. He turns upon him.
‘Speak, slanderer, accursed knave—is this law valid or not valid? Invalid, I imagine, only for this reason,—that the operation of the laws must be dated from the archonship of Eukleides. So you live, and walk about this city, as you little deserve to do; you who, under the democracy, lived by pettifogging, and under the oligarchy—lest you should be forced to give back all the profits of that trade—became the instrument of the Thirty.
‘The truth is, judges, that as I sat here, while he accused me, and as I looked at him, I fancied myself nothing else than a prisoner at the bar of the Thirty. Had this trial been in their time, who would have been accusing me? Was not this man ready to
accuse, if I had not given him money? He has done it now. And who but Charikles would have been cross-examining me? ‘Tell me, Andokides, did you go to Dekeleia, and enforce the hostile garrison on your country's soil?’—‘Not I.’—‘How then? You ravaged the territory, and plundered your fellow-citizens by land or sea?’—‘Certainly not.’ —‘And you did not serve in the enemy's fleet, or help to level the Long Walls, or to abolish the democracy?’—‘None of these things have I done.’— ‘None? Do you think, then, that you will enjoy impunity, or escape the death suffered by many others?’
‘Can you suppose, judges, that my fate, as your champion, would have been other than this, if I had
References of Andokides to the early history of Attica.
been caught by the Tyrants? I should have been destroyed by them, as they destroyed many others, for having done no wrong to Athens2
The love of Andokides for narrative, wherever it can be introduced, is strikingly seen in his mode of handling his legal argument in the speech On the Mysteries. Instead of simply citing and interpreting the enactments upon which he relies, he reviews in order the events which led to the enactments being made3
. The same tendency appears in his habit of drawing illustrations from the early history of Attica. These references are in many points loose and confused4
. Andokides, however, is hardly
a worse offender in this respect than (for instance) Aeschines5
; and has more excuse. In the time of Andokides written history was a comparatively new invention, and most men knew the events even of their grandfathers' days only from hearsay. Nor does the apparent inaccuracy of Andokides in regard to earlier history affect his authority as a witness for events with which he was contemporary. The value of his testimony for the years 415—390 is unquestioned.